Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hamamelis vernalis: the last days of winter

The Hamamelis vernalis (vernal witchhazel) and Galanthus (snowdrops) have been in flower for a little while now. Thanks to the return of the sunlight little clumps of Crocus have opened to show off their bright yellow stamens amidst delicate cups of white edged in lavender. I cleaned up the ratty leaves of the Helleborus (Hellebores, Lenten Rose) and their blooms are opening rich purple, brilliant white, and green throughout the woodland slope. At last the Iris reticulata are bursting forth, their perfectly proportioned miniature bodies appearing through the debris only a few inches tall. The first shots of color in the late winter landscape are reminding us of the magical season to come. The Narcissus (daffodils) are pushing their foliage, like the little Muscari (grape hyacinth) in front of them. The Tulipa will take more time, but still the green tips of spring life are exhilarating.

Hamamelis vernalis:
--commonly called vernal Witchhazel
--member of the Hamamelidaceae family
--Grows to 6-10' high and greater in spread
--Hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-8
--Medium growth rate
--When in leaf provides nice medium texture to a landscape
--Durable woodland plant but is not a big fan of being transplanted once established

Thanks to Michael Dirr's Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation and Uses for factoid conformation. And if you are at all serious about woody plants and/or landscaping, this is a book you must own. -aef

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